Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Wild made coaching changes…now, what about the roster?

New Minnesota Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau
Now that the Minnesota Wild have their coaching staff in place, with the hiring of Bruce Boudreau as the new head coach. John Anderson and Scott Stevens were hired on as assistant coaches. Darby Hendrickson remains as the only assistant coach from Mike Yeo’s staff, along with goaltending coach Bob Mason (who has been with the team for the Wild’s entire existence).

The big question now is what moves are the Wild going to make in order to improve their roster? With the 2016 NHL Draft starting Friday in Buffalo and free agency starting at midnight on July 1st  (general managers meetings are either currently going on or start on June 22), Chuck Fletcher is going to be closely watched on what moves he makes (and which ones he doesn’t).

Let’s start off with the draft. 

This year, the Wild have only four draft picks. Yes, that is correct. Minnesota currently holds the 15th pick overall (first round). The Wild don’t have a draft pick again until the fourth round (at 106th overall) with another two picks remaining in the 7th round (at 196th and 204th overall respectively). That’s not a whole lot to build on. Chuck Fletcher traded a few draft picks away last season for upcoming drafts for basically rent-a-players (a couple of them who were busts for the Wild). I think I just saw recently that what would have been the Wild’s third round draft pick has changed teams at least 5 times already—most recently this week. (Fletcher also stated in a press conference yesterday that he’s not looking at trading for any draft picks.)

Tom Powers said on Monday, “…With the cupboard of their American League farm club now containing nothing but ant bait, the Wild need to get busy on improving their personnel.” That’s not good. (Wild must improve roster or expect miracle from Boudreau, twincities.com)

(Joel Eriksson Ek, who was the Wild’s first round draft pick last year, will be playing in Sweden this upcoming season with F√§rjestad of the SHL).

What about free agency?

The salary cap for the 2016-17 season has been announced at being $73 million (up only $1.6 million from last season). The Wild currently have approximately $9.2 million available in cap space, according to www.spotrac.com. That’s not a whole lot.

The Wild’s list of unrestricted free agents are forwards David Jones (acquired via trade from Calgary), Jarrett Stoll and Chris Porter (both claimed off of waivers last season), Ryan Carter, and Justin Fontaine. Out of those five, the possibility of any of those being re-signed remains to be seen. 

Darcy Kuemper will become a restricted free agent again on July 1st (and could become an unrestricted free agent after the 2016-17 season), along with forwards Zac Dalpe and Jordan Schroeder (whom the Wild are expected to tend offers to). There have been reports as of late that Darcy Kuemper could possibly be moved (via trade). 

It's going to be a very interesting part of the off-season these next couple of weeks. What Chuck Fletcher does (and doesn't do) is going to be very interesting...and could potentially cause new coach Boudreau, along with Wild fans), some serious headaches this upcoming season...